Sociologists in public health: marginal observers or mainstream collaborators?

K Powell, NJ Fox, S Bhanbhro, A Chauhan, A Goldschmied Z, K Jackson, A Paton, S Salway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At first glance, sociology and public health should make for good partners. Both disciplines address the social, environmental, and community contexts of embodiment and well-being. Both are concerned with social inequality, social justice, and the politics of policy-making. Both are staffed by committed professionals who engage with the public, community leaders, and stakeholders to make a difference to people’s lives.
However, the marginal influence of sociology within UK public health became apparent during the pandemic1 in its role in UK Government scientific advisory groups. Sociological insights were missing, for instance, in responses to class, ethnic, and gender variations in infection and care-seeking.2 The congruity of the disciplines has been recognised in recent UK public health guidance3–5 which identifies a need to enhance public health’s collaborative work with sociologists. So why is it that sociology and public health do not collaborate more? And what might sociologists do to enhance their contributions to public health? Here, a group of sociologists suggest some solutions, deriving from a workshop conducted in 2022.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-74
Number of pages3
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
Issue number2
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © Royal Society for Public Health 2023. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (


  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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